SINGAPORE - Filipino domestic helper Josefina Amparo Hosena, 45, and Leona Heng, five, have a very special relationship.
Leona suffers from Edwards syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leads to heart defects, growth deficiencies, and intellectual disability.
While Ms Josefina has to ensure that Leona is fed through a feeding tube at regular intervals round the clock and be ready to respond to any emergency, such as heart failure, Leona has taught her and her employer's family what love and fighting spirit really mean.
For her dedication, Ms Josefina was one of the 40 individual caregivers or families, aged 28 to 79, given the 2017 Model Caregiver Awards on Saturday (March 25).
The biennial awards, which started in 2007, are organised by local non-profit AWWA Caregiver Service, National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) in partnership with various charities.
Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor, who gave out some of the awards, said each recipient represents "a poignant tale of love and great sacrifice".
Citing Ms Josefina's example, she added: "Let's not forget the many domestic helpers in Singapore who have been caring for our loved ones as if they were their own family."
AWWA director Manmohan Singh said: "The role of family caregivers has taken on greater significance in Singapore, with our ageing population and longer life expectancy...We hope each caregiving story will touch other caregivers and help motivate and affirm their roles."
The NCSS and AIC will be rolling out more initiatives to help caregivers – such as a Disability Caregiver Support Centre, which is expected to benefit 2,000 caregivers over the next five years.
They will also expand existing initiatives, such as introducing information booths on care schemes at more polyclinics, and training more taxi drivers to assist wheelchair-bound passengers and those with dementia symptoms.